My friends and I would pass notes to each other in class at school (after we had finished our work obviously – just in case our parents are reading this. They were notes full of boys and friends and ‘drama’. And at the time they were significant, we could have ‘the worse day EVER’ and be completely sincere about it, because in that moment it was the worse we had experienced.
I have thought back on this a lot over the last 15 weeks as a way to help me remain calm, fair and supportive.
Everyone experiences hardship and for them, in that moment, it is unbearable and it seems like no one else has it this bad, this hard. And that’s okay. Because that is the moment they are in, comparing stories does nothing but disappoint both of you when you feel they have a minor struggle and they feel you are not acknowledging how hard it is (and vice-versa). In the nicu this changes each day, sometimes each hour as families get good news and bad news. We have had people pass us in the corridor on our worst days, and some will have known it, and shared a look, and some will have no idea.
Since the end of May we have watched four other families say goodbye to their dreams (and that’s only in our nursery)…this place has shown us loss like we have never known. We watch that white screen get rolled in and we know it’s time to go home for the day, to give space for them and for us. We know this and what it feels like deep into our bones. Yet we can still feel anguish over the small things, someone else’s pain, over their job, their relationship, their life.
It is all about perspective.
And consciously being able to consider it. Which is sometimes hard, but always worthwhile.
We have been through the wringer this year, we have been the lowest of the low and sometimes we are still down there. Nothing is as bad as that, I know this. Yet now that the worst is over (in terms of the physical…) sometimes we find ourselves back in that moment where it all feels like the absolute worst.
This is a mixture of finally having enough stability in Oliver to reflect on it all, and feeling that we should be through the worst, it can only get better, surely.
Yesterday the ophthalmologist came to visit Oliver.
He put his nasty equipment on Oliver’s face and gave us some news that was bad. Oliver has had a bleed into each of his eyes sometime in the last fortnight.
This is the life of a 24 weeker. Retinopathy of prematurity.
We thought we were clear, so close! This was to be his last eye check.
Not to be. He gets rechecked next week and if it’s worse then he will need laser eye surgery.
The poor eye doctor didn’t quite know what to do when I burst into tears and started spluttering questions. This is NOT the end of the world. Surgery is dangerous for little babies, but it’s generally successful. He may need glasses. But all of this is better than detached retina and blindness.
I acknowledge that this was disappointing, and we are so sad that our boy has to go through more procedures (thank god we don’t remember being babies!!!!).
Stop and consciously initiate use of perspective.
Perhaps this should be pinned to the mirror so that we can be reminded each day.
It doesn’t matter what you are going through, it is your life and your moment, and it’s hard. Although I pour our feelings into these posts and they consume our life right now, I basically wanted you to know that we are working hard on perspective.
“I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?” -Anton Ego.